You’re a shop girl in Downtown LA, living in a modest apartment. Then one day, as you’re locking up, Kim Kardashian stops you on the street. She’s desperate for something to wear, and you just happen to work in a shop called “So Chic”! You help her find an outfit, and she starts you out on a journey towards fame.
It sounds a bit like it should be a movie starring Hilary Duff, but this is the plot of Kim Kardashian’s app. I downloaded Kim Kardashian Hollywood before a flight to DC on a whim, figuring “Why not?”. I created a blue-eyed starlet with sharp red bob, who prefers to dress in plums and blues to accent her fiery hair. I was impressed with the game’s art, and how it capitalizes on the addictive mobile gaming trends of other highly successful games. You really want to check in. You really want to advance your character through the levels of fame. It’s… fun.
But of course, this is a game starring Kim Kardashian. It’s fun, vapid… and not sending a particularly positive message for young girls.
Go on a date, and the first thing your beau comments on is your outfit. Apparently, he’ll only be satisfied when you’re able to afford the clothes only available to the richest (and highest level) players. What a charmer. We all love it when men criticize our clothing. It’s the first step in any healthy relationship.
In level 7 or 8, I faced an unexpected dilemma – Did I want to pose nude for an “artistic” photoshoot? At this point I was already a “C” celebrity, and doing so would advance my career. If I declined, I would have to find other ways to gain points. I did the shoot, feeling embarrassed for my pixelated princess the entire time.
From early in the game, you are pitted against Willow Pape, a similarly “ranked” starlet with what appear to be some significant psychological issues. Time and time again, you are given choices to take the high road, or drag Willow’s name through the mud. When you are not offered a choice, the game automatically positions you to steamroll Willow. For example, she offers $3,000 for your former store, and you swoop in and steal it for $2,000. A player wanting to make ethical decisions throughout is, through automatic game play, subtly convinced that destroying Willow Pape is the thing to do. Anything to get to the top, right?
The game is rated as appropriate for ages 12 and up, so take comfort that 3rd graders are not “supposed” to be playing across LA, bopping into bars and debating nude photo shoots. But, it’s a totally cool message for 6th graders.